This poem was shared with us today, as the closing of our Peace Corps Staging event in Philly. It brought a tear to my eye and made me so excited for what is ahead. It was written by Meleia Egger, who served in Malawi 2008-10.
A Message for Soon to be Volunteers
The Peace Corps, is a twenty-seven-month-long-commitment,
little do you know, you are in it for life…
It all starts with that spark from someone, “Uncle Dave served in the Peace Corps and he loved it”, “Do you know they work in Thailand?” or the best and most simple, “You would be great in the Peace Corps.”
It’s the highest compliment, the deepest calling.
And then the paper trail begins, blazing a path through a dense bureaucratic network of uploaded dreams and poorly stated ambitions.
We trace every spark,
believing it will one day lead to a full fire of intention.
Really, it’s your first endurance test, and it’s not a smooth process, believe me!
When volunteers start, their minds are wrapped around 1,000 different words for help…empower, assist, aid, facilitate, uplift…yet no idea how to use them in a sentence. Let alone in life.
Yes, we open borders, but more importantly, minds and hearts.
Winning them, earning them, with the skills of our training and the purity of our efforts.
This is something those who are new to the family realize, and eventually, eventually, 9-12 months eventually…
You will go forth from this time, and this place, toting all that you can carry of your past life and loved ones.
Never, will you feel more alive – it will surprise you.
It is a progression of connection…
at first, you are in your head and it’s American meets other.
Then you get more grounded, and, volunteer, meets villager or teacher, meets student.
And then, if you are lucky, the simplicity settles in, and it’s human meets human,
heart to heart.
It’s all right there. It’s tucked into the humble corners of each day.
Two years- will fly by.
Watch carefully, or you might miss it.
Blink twice, and it’s gone..
And then, you will leave those same coveted, carefully packed objects turned artifacts in the fault lines of all your cultural earthquakes.
you come back.
You are returned volunteers, never former, and you try to trace the patterns of home and you stumble, and get dizzy, and people from the place you once knew ask…
How was Malawi? Ecuador? Mauritania? Poland?
How was Nicaragua? Mali? Panama? Vanuatu? Romania? How was Cameroon?
And, what did you do there?
and you will pause…
“I changed the world. I changed myself.”
It’s been 50 years of sweat and smiles, moments and memories, adventure and admiration, respect and realization, an waiting, and waiting, and waiting.
It’s been 50 years of imagination and inspiration.
Fifty years on paper, but we are a part of so much more.
We bring hope to the forgotten corners of the world, to find peace at our core.